Respect (Sock It To Me)

Scott Hudson

Do any wrestlers in the WWE, TNA, ROH or anywhere actually have respect for the business anymore? Tuesday nightâ<80><99>s major league baseball all-star game brought a tear to the eye when, for the last time in hallowed Yankee Stadium, just about every living baseball legend (except Pete Rose) hit the field to be honored by this yearâ<80><99>s cream of the diamond crop. Interviews with the 2008 All-Stars showed a reverence that bordered on worship for the legends.

Would wrestlers do the same thing? No way in hell.

When Ric Flair retired on the March 31 â<80><9c>Raw,â<80> he was feted by a host of legends (Steamboat, Arn, Valentine, etc.) and a couple of current superstars (who could forget the humiliatingly self-serving bear-hug lift administered by Dave Batista. Ridiculous.) Admittedly, HHH and John Cena (why was he out there?) seemed sufficiently impressed to be a part of the festivities but when the locker room emptied and a host of WWE talent applauded long and loud for the Nature Boy, most looked like they were just following a script.

Oh, I can hear the vitriol now! â<80><9c>You do not know what youâ<80><99>re talking about! That was respect being shown for one of the all-time greats by a group of wrestlers who owe their careers to the path he blazed!â<80>

Right. Keep telling yourselves that. Maybe the Easter Bunny will believe you.

The truth, whether these gassed up freaks will admit it or not, is that Ric Flair was just the old guy who Vince kept pushing even though he worked the same match every night. (That could not be further from what I believe, by the way.) Most of those guys didnâ<80><99>t know Ric Flair from Rick Roll.

And thatâ<80><99>s the problem. There is no need for them to know or appreciate how their several hundred thousand dollar annual income is owed, in no small part, to Ric Flair and every other guy that worked in the 70’s and 80’s. Or even the 50’s and 60’s and before. While baseball players far and wide can tell you exactly why the name Curt Flood is spoken with quiet awe, wrestlers probably walked up to Deuce and said, â<80><9c>Your dadâ<80><99>s a big guy. He should have been a wrestler too.â<80>

Why is that exactly? Because the WWF shut down territories, bought up contracts, secured footage rights and gripped all three tighter than Hulk Hogan gripped Brookeâ<80><99>s butt poolside. Vince McMahon won, of that there can be no question. In war, the winners get to write the history. The revision of wrestling history (or the complete lack of non-WWE history therein) is just one of many spoils earned by the WWE. Thus, when there are legends conventions, guess who do not show up? All legends currently subject to WWE contracts. When DVD box sets are released, which career sections are utterly buried if included at all? The non-WWE parts. On the Legends of Wrestling on â<80><9c>WWE24/7,â<80> does any wrestling promotion other than the WWE (and the UWF if Jim Ross is hosting) ever get put over? Are you kidding?!

To the victors go the spoils. And this thing is spoiling pretty quickly. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Thatâ<80><99>s doesnâ<80><99>t mean Jimmy Garvin and Sunshine are going to wash Kevin Von Erichâ<80><99>s horse again. But it does mean that the fate that befell WCW, the NWA, the AWA, Florida, Georgia, the UWF (the good one), Portland, World Class and Central States may creep up on the WWE unless they take a step back and remember this: Just because they are the only game in town now, doesnâ<80><99>t mean they always were or they always will be. Before you bring up the USFL, remember that without that league the NFL would not have instant replay, the 2-point conversion and the stopping of the clock after a first down. The NFL shut down the USFL, but they did not in any way forget them or bury their memory.

Baseball paid tribute to its rich heritage Tuesday night by honoring the men who helped build the sport. Why do I get the feeling Wrestlemania 25 will feature a blow-out tribute marking the 5th anniversary of the diva search featuring a reunion of Tough Enough: The First Season. Gene Kiniski must be spinning in his grave. Wait, what?

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